Have you ever wanted to ask a judge what goes on in family or civil court, how adoptions work, or learn the difference between felony and misdemeanor crimes?
Officials with the 19th Judicial Circuit are betting the answer is yes and this month are hosting a "Your Courts Up Close" program to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at the state court system.
Judges seated in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties will discuss a range of court-related topics and answer questions during a two-hour program held Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. between Feb. 21 and March 14 at the St. Lucie County Courthouse, 218 South Second Street, in downtown Fort Pierce.
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"In years past we've had presentations about probate and divorce. At the clerk's office one year they were showing evidence from a murder case from years ago and explaining how they keep things in a vault," said St. Lucie County Judge Daryl Isenhower, who created the community outreach program in 2017.
"It's hard to have any kind of outreach here in the court system with people and especially as a judge, there's very little we're allowed to do or talk about and this is one of the things we can do."
Topics will include family and probate court, criminal prosecutions and will feature speakers from the State Attorney's and Public Defenders offices. Local attorneys also will be presenters and Chief Judge Charles "Tony" Schwab will speak during a session.
"A lot of people watch crime shows or legal shows and are very interested, but they don't get much of what we do here in real life," Isenhower said. "We thought it'd be a good idea for people to come and hear about legal topics from local judges and some lawyers and let them ask questions."
He launched the program in 2017, but the last time it was held was in 2020, Isenhower said.
"Previously we've had pretty good crowds and we make a promise that if they attend three of the four nights, we'll give them a certificate … suitable for framing," he said. "We get people of different backgrounds and interests. We have senior citizens, college students and occasionally a high school student come in with their parents. So, it's a good mix of folks."
Attendance is capped at around 100 people, he said, so seating is limited.
Participants must pre-register by calling 772-807-4370 or email email@example.com.
More information is at the court's website at www.Circuit19.org.
Melissa E. Holsman is the legal affairs reporter for TCPalm and Treasure Coast Newspapers, and is writer and co-host ofUncertain Terms, a true crime podcast. Reach her firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a subscriber, thank you. If not,become a subscriber to get the latest local news on the Treasure Coast.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Free behind-the-scenes program Your Courts Up Close begins Feb. 21